Environmental Protection

Scientists Hear Whale Songs in NYC Waters

For the first time in waters surrounding New York City, the calls of endangered fin, humpback, and North Atlantic right whales have been recorded, according to experts from the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

"This is an exciting time for New Yorkers. Just think, just miles from the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall and Times Square, the great whales are singing," says Chris Clark, the director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

"With data generated by acoustic monitoring, we can better understand New York's role in the life history of these endangered whales and make more informed conservation decisions," says James Gilmore, chief of the DEC's Bureau of Marine Resources. "This is especially important for the survival of right whales."

The recorders were placed about 13 miles from the New York Harbor entrance and off the shores of Fire Island. Knowing the whales' travel paths will help ship traffic managers avoid whale collisions in New York waters. Further, the study will characterize New York waters' acoustic environment and examine whether underwater noises, including shipping, affect the whales.

Acoustic monitoring was initiated in spring 2008 – between March and June – in order to record the right whales' northward migration from their calving ground off the Florida eastern coast to their feeding grounds off Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The study will continue through February.

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